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Prosocial Behavior

 

Explanations > Theories > Prosocial Behavior

Description | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

Prosocial behavior occurs when someone acts to help another person, particularly when they have no goal other than to help a fellow human.

So why does this altruistic behavior appear? One thought, of Kin Selection, is that it is a genetic response to supporting the broader gene pool. Social conditioning can also have be a cause and prosocial parents lead to prosocial children.

The Reciprocity Norm may also have an effect, where people help others, knowing that one day they may want someone else to help them in the same unselfish way. Demonstrating such social norms is likely to get you admiration from other people around you.

Prosocial behavior varies with context as much as between people. Men will tend to be chivalrous for short periods, whilst women will work quietly for longer periods. People who are in a good mood are more likely to do good, as are people who are feeling guilty. People in small towns are more likely to help than those squashed together in cities.

Example

Evidence abounds of people helping others without asking for anything in return. This is the whole principle of charity. Their rationale for helping others is often Intrinsic Motivation. 

So what?

Using it

Ask for help. It is surprising how often people will give it, without thought of asking for something in return.

Defending

When you are helping other people out of the goodness of your heart, beware of people taking advantage of you. This does not mean you should not be altruistic; just beware of vampires.

See also

Empathy-Altruism Hypothesis, Intrinsic Motivation, Reciprocity Norm, Social Exchange Theory

Seasonal transformation

References

Darwin (1859)

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